Gyro from BZ Grill in Astoria
When Jamie asked for an impromptu tour of Astoria, we couldn't help but hit up BZ Grill, home to what may be New York's finest gyro. It's an almost-a-pound funnel of thinly sliced fatty pork crisped up on a spit—one small step away from a true meat tornado.
Pad Ped Moo Krob from Larb Ubol
Larb Ubol is the new Thai spot we're excited about, in no small part because of this sweet, curry-laced stir fry of crispy, fatty pork, thinly sliced crunchy eggplant, and tons of sweet herbs. The chef here used to cook Isan Thai at East Village favorite Zabb Elee; now that she's on Ninth Avenue, the sad strip of restaurants west of Penn Station is looking a little brighter.
Tokyo Tsuke-Men at Minca
When it's too hot for a bowl of Minca's regular ramen, try their Tokyo Tsuke-Men ($12-$14.75), cold noodles with concentrated dipping broth (soy, salt garlic, miso, or spicy miso) and a side of chilled toppings—chopped scallions, black mushroom, bamboo shoots, half a hard-boiled egg, and two slices of meltingly fatty pork. The noodles aren't at risk for losing their satisfying springy chew to hot broth, and the thick dipping broth clings well to every bite.
Burger from Joe Junior
For Eater's Greasy Spoons Week, Nick Solares penned an ode to his favorite diner, Joe Junior. His review of the burger there was his AHT debut, and we felt it was time to pay our respects again. You should, too, because this is everything the classic diner burger should be: juicy, nicely seasoned, almost austere.
Joe Junior: 167 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10003 (map); 212-473-5150
Arepas from The Arepa Lady
After watching this video on the Sainted Arepa Lady of Jackson Heights, we couldn't help but pay another visit for her outstanding arepas, still destination-worthy years later. Her arepas de chocolo are particularly good: a dense circle of sweet corn dough stuffed with gooey, slightly funky cheese.
"Nontraditional ramens, in the wrong hands, can go horribly awry (two words: Ramen Burger), so I was slightly hesitant to try the signature green curry ramen at Bossanova, a new Tokyo-based import that recently opened their first US outpost in Chinatown. But I was pleasantly surprised by the finished product—a rich, coconut milk-enhanced broth lashed with fresh herbs, filled with extra-thick, wavy yellow ramen noodles with a pleasantly chewy texture, and topped with individually grilled sliced chasu and plump whole shrimp. The only misstep was the inexplicable mesclun garnish, which wilted unpleasantly in the hot broth, but the bowl was so massive I ate around the lettuce with ease." — Jamie Feldmar
Bassanova Ramen: 76 Mott Street, New York, NY 10013 (map)
Maduros from El Olomega
El Olomega makes incredible pupusas, but they're just as good at plantains. These are the sweet versions—maduros—we ordered on a recent trip to the Red Hook Ball Fields. (Okay, we order them on every trip.) And they're reason alone to visit; the sweet, intensely caramelized plantains fall apart when prodded with a fork, and they're perfectly accentuated by the clump of salty, tangy crema. See also: plantain pupusas.
Spicy Swingle from Steve's Key Lime Pie
Steve's Key Lime Pies is right on the Red Hook waterfront, and after Hurricane Sandy hit, the shop and bakery had to pack up and move. Fortunately it didn't go far—just up Van Dyke—and the post-Sandy shop is now serving variations on its classic swingle (a chocolate-dipped frozen key lime pie on a stick). There are white chocolate and raspberry versions, but our first taste went for this spicy version, a dollar more than the original, and, if chilies are your game, a worthy surcharge. The dried red chilies add a slow-burning tingle to all the sweetness, and the heat plays well against the frozen pie.
Scallion Pancake at AA Plaza in Flushing
A day of Flushing usually starts at AA Plaza, a strip of streetside stalls under the Long Island Rail Road tracks on Main Street. There's nothing revelatory about these $1 scallion pancakes, but because the stall is so busy, they're always fresh from the griddle. They walk the line between flaky and dense, with a trace of oiliness but less than you'll find in other, more stale scallion pancakes. A mild but fulfilling way to get the appetite going.
AA Plaza: 40-66 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11369 (map)